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Operating Forklifts on Slopes: What You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard the term “slippery slope.” For forklift drivers, that’s not just a figure of speech. Driving a lift up or down any uneven surface – even if it doesn’t seem that steep – is one of the major reasons that people end up in an accident.

OSHA has specific guidelines for operating forklifts on slopes. For another viewpoint, a forklift firm in Australia recently did some research as to how forklift drivers should proceed when driving on slopes, small hills and other tricky terrain types.

And what they found out what that taking a forklift up or down a slope can end up with a bad accident – if the operator is going the wrong way.

This is a common cause of forklift accidents. Slopes can make a forklift’s load to slide off, which can cause the lift to run the fallen load over. Plus, slopes can make a lift tip over forward, so the back wheels lift up. Other hazards include locked front wheels and spinning wheels – both of these can result in the forklift spinning out of control.

If you have to go up or down a slope, always do the following:

  • Drive the forklift straight up or down the slope.
  • Avoid steep slopes.
  • Make sure the load always points uphill.
  • When going down a slope, be careful about the load falling off.
  • Always drive with a lift “forks first” down a hill or slope (this puts more weight on the braking wheels, so the driver has more traction).

Handling slopes on the job can also be easier with proper warnings and cautions. If you’re on your company’s safety team, or know someone who is, take a few minutes to address certain slopes. Maybe a warning sign or painted yellow pavement can help point out those areas a forklift driver needs to be aware of.

Another way to stay safe on the job is to use training. We can help make your company OSHA compliant quickly and affordably. Talk to our training specialists today – just call FLC at t (888) 278-8896, or visit our contact page for more information.

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